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Cross-industry project to improve cobalt mining for EV batteries

BMW, BASF SE, Samsung SDI and Samsung Electronics jointly explore ways to improve working conditions at cobalt mines in Congo-Kinshasa

The new partnership, together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), have signed a contract to improve artisanal mining working conditions, as well as living conditions for surrounding communities. The scope of the project will span over one pilot mine within the next three years, and the partners will not operate the mine.

Cobalt is a key component in the production of batteries for the automotive and electronics industries. The world’s largest known reserves of this raw material are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Industrial mining accounts for approximately 80-85% of Congolese cobalt production, with artisanal mining operations producing the remaining 15-20%. Currently, companies are facing challenges in the areas of environment, health and safety, and human rights when cobalt is extracted through artisanal mining.

This fully privately financed project seeks to pilot an approach to address the challenges in artisanal mining. It aims to identify workable solutions that lead to better working conditions at the mine site. If proven effective, these measures could then be scaled up to other legal artisanal mine sites and enhance systemic challenges in the long term.

This is the first time partners from automotive, chemical and consumer electronics industries have come together to address the challenges of artisanal cobalt mining in the country. The pilot project builds on a feasibility study jointly conducted by GIZ and BMW. Insights gained from visits to several artisanal mines, stakeholder interviews and surveys of miners and community members were instrumental in shaping this project approach.

The project also contributes to the goals of global initiatives, such as the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), to foster sustainable supply chains.

About Zara Popstoyanova

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